September 5, 2012

Beer Flows in Willard Straight Hall as Bear’s Den Opens

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After two years of planning and waiting for a liquor license, the new student pub, located in the Ivy Room in Willard Straight Hall, opened Wednesday, drawing dozens of excited students.

Operating under a temporary license provided by Cornell Catering, the Bear’s Den offered both well-known labels, such as Heineken, Michelob and Amstel Lite, and local brews, such as Big Red Ale.

“My hope is that it gets used as much as possible,” said Rob Callahan ’14, pub director of the Student Union Board. “I think you’re going to get a different kind of person that comes in here on a Friday night as opposed to going to Collegetown … We’re trying to appeal to the people, who are both 21 and not 21, who are looking for stuff to do at night.”

Both undergraduate and graduate students who came to the pub’s opening said they were looking forward to using the space to catch up with friends after work and to relax after classes. Some also said the Bear’s Den will be a good place for 21-year-olds to spend time in the evening with their underage peers.

“I feel like when I turn 21, this will be a great place to catch a beer after dinner, or after classes,” Gregory Braciak ’14 said. “But until then I can still come with my friends who are 21 even when they’re drinking.”

Although the local draught beer and the assortment of beverages caught the attention of many students, others said space in the room that was allotted to the bar was too small.

Braciak added that he found the use of the venue “underwhelming.”

“In my mind, I kind of envisioned a whole bar,” he said. “But with the space they were provided, I think they did a good job.”

Some students also said Wednesday that they were taken aback that their state IDs were scanned and entered into a database upon entering the pub.

Christine Bakewell ’13 said the ID system may discourage her from returning to the Bear’s Den in the future.

“The school has all of our IDs on file now,” she said. “It just struck me as weird. I wouldn’t have come if I had known that.”

Stephanie Ellis, dining manager of the Ivy Room and the Bear’s Den, said that the pub scans the front of a student’s state ID as a safety precaution and records the date and time each student entered the pub.

“[The time stamp] does stay in our records, just, for instance, if something were to happen off-campus,” she said. “So, if [students] were to leave, it does state when they were here and the date they were here.”

The system also ensures that each ID is scanned only once, to prevent students from passing their IDs to friends to use to get a wristband that allows them to purchase alcoholic beverages, Ellis said.

Ellis said the information obtained by the scanner would not be used for any other purpose.

“It’s nothing bad, it’s just more or less for safety, for double checking of the IDs,” she said. “It’s not like it’s going to the Cornell police or anything. It’s for us.”

Original Author: Sylvia Rusnak